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Cambridge Risk Centre contributes to UK government planning

Blackett Review Panel for Strategic Shocks: High Impact-Low Probability Events Facing the UK.

Early morning lights up the top Big Ben across the Thames River.In Autumn 2010 the UK Government commissioned a panel of internationally regarded experts in the field of risk management, including the University of Cambridge’s Dr Andrew Coburn (Director of the External Advisory Board, Centre for Risk Studies) and Professor David Spiegelhalter (Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk), to explore how the Government could best identify and plan for ‘black swan events’ (characterised as events that are rare, extremely impactful and only retrospectively predictable).

Bringing together academics, industry, and government scientists, the panel addressed the strategic issues of preparedness and the UK Government’s use of risk analysis techniques to avoid strategic shock, examining a range of issues including the national risk assessments and definitions of ‘reasonable worst case’ preparedness scenarios.

As the Government Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Sir John Beddington explains in the foreword to the panel’s report: “We live in an uncertain world in which citizens are subject to numerous threats and hazards from within and outside the UK. One of the responsibilities of government is to help address these using the very best methodology for identifying, assessing and managing risk.”

The report, published this month, identifies several recommendations for further strengthening the UK Government’s approaches to addressing these types of risk.